Wednesday, Aug. 19, 1998 | 10:49 a.m.
TIM GRAHAM is a Las Vegas Sun sportswriter. His media column appears Wednesdays. He can be reached on the Internet at [email protected]
It's been written in this space before: The first of Las Vegas' three sports stations to make a commitment to community programming will be the best.
One station finally distinguished itself from the competition by taking such steps. KSFN 1140-AM recently struck a deal with Caples Productions to broadcast high school sports for the 1998-99 school year.
The deal commences Aug. 28 when the prep football season kicks off. Cimarron-Memorial at Chaparral will mark the debut.
Caples Productions executive producer Tim Neverett stated it was about time one of the valley's all-sports stations noticed the importance of local athletics.
"This is a regular city," said Neverett, the erstwhile Las Vegas Stars and Thunder announcer. "This is a big city with a million and a half people. Besides being the sports gambling capital of the world Las Vegas is the 10th-largest school district in the country.
"People have regular lives."
High school sports have bounced around the dial the past few years, but they've never been on an all-sports station. In recent years they have been heard on KLAV 1230-AM and KRLV 1340-AM, which once went by KMTW.
"Most communities that are this size or larger, stations have fights over who's going to carry the games," Neverett said. "Unfortunately, we haven't had that in this market.
"But once The Fan starts doing it and sees the response they'll get over it, they might have to stand up and say 'This is ours.'"
Scott Robbs, known to most as the voice of UNLV baseball, will call play-by-play. Local prep expert D.J. Allen will add color commentary.
"We're glad The Fan stood up and said 'Let's do this thing,'" Neverett said. "It makes a heck of a lot of sense."
"It can give them an edge in the local market. There's no telling how many different people they can reach by broadcasting high school sports."
For the seventh straight year, Prime Cable will broadcast the prep football game of the week on tape-delay, airing the following Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Channel 48. Neverett and KVBC Channel 3 sports director Andrew Smith will handle play-by-play, while veteran Trip Mitchell will offer analysis.
It wasn't nearly the main event. It wasn't even on the undercard. But a battle among the local backup sportscasters ensued at the Hard Rock hotel-casino on Monday. All three participated in the inaugural Hoops in Vegas charity basketball tournament.
The MTV-style event featured teams comprised of an NBA player, a celebrity and two others. Proceeds benefitted the Educational Resources and Services Center in Culver City, Calif. Scores were generated by making shots from various spots on the court in a 60-second span.
Chris Maathuis of KLAS Channel 8 hit six shots from the top of the key for 24 points to pace his peers. Mario Diaz of KTNV Channel 13 made four buckets from the same distance. Brian Lippai of KVBC Channel 3 made one shot from the foul line for two points.
Diaz' team, which included Jon Barry and Jenny McCarthy, was the only one to escape the first round. They were knocked out in the quarterfinals.
Diaz has been tabbed to announce the Oscar De La Hoya vs. Julio Cesar Chavez boxing match for TVKO's Spanish telecast. Diaz has done nearly 50 world title fights for the network, starting when he was 19 years old with the first Evander Holyfield vs. Riddick Bowe bout. ... Upset that ESPN wanted to shift its final three "Sunday Night Baseball" games to ESPN2, Major League Baseball yanked the games from the network to sell locally. ESPN needed to switch the games -- featuring the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers -- to accommodate its Sunday night NFL package. ... Industry sources indicate KSFN 1140-AM will not renew its deals with the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Coyotes for 1998-99. ... KENO 1460-AM and the American Legion are working on a deal to broadcast the Bishop Gorman games at the American Legion World Series at Cashman Field. Gorman is guaranteed at least three games, with the first Friday at 7:30 p.m. Las Vegas Stars announcer Tim Neverett would handle the play-by-play. ... The final Stars telecast is Aug. 31 at 7:05 p.m. against the Tucson Toros on KFBT Channel 33.